A good relationship with your donor is key for a good cooperation. This does not only apply for one grant, but for the future as well. Donors who already know you will be much more inclined to fund you again. For future proposals you might need recommendations or references, and a good long-term partner is always helpful. But how can you achieve a good relationship with your donor? Here are five tips that you should follow if you are looking for sustainable, long-term partnerships with your donors.
To be a good partner and to develop a good relationship with your donor, you should be reliable. Particularly during the implementation process of the project you received the funding for, your word should be trustworthy. Donors want to have partners they can trust and count on, and the implementation of the project is the first phase they can see this. Stick to your deadlines, contact them when you said you would, answer phone calls and emails on time and just be there for everything needed. Of course this also means to fulfull what you promised in your proposal. Make sure you do not make projections in your proposal that are not realistic, as you will be perceived as unreliable if you have to admit that in the project report.
The same applies for the aftermath of receiving a grant. You still should prove to be a loyal and reliable partner. If you promised to send additional pictures, do so in time. If the donor wants any further information, provide it immediately, even if it exceeds the original report. All this shows that you have a good management system in place and can be a trusted partner in the future.
Keep in contact
Keeping in contact is very important during the running of the project as well as afterwards. Inform the donor about your progress and actions, and particularly keep them in the loop if you encounter any difficulties. Maybe there is a way that the donor can help you overcome them.
After the project, keeping in contact is important to establish a long-term relationship. If you plan any presentations of your work or participate in conferences or workshops, it is always a good idea to invite the donors. If they don’t show up, they still got a reminder you exist and keep working, and if they do you might get another chance to network and present your work. Do not overdo it though, nobody wants to get an email every week, but if you have something important, make sure to share it with your former donors.
If you developed a good and maybe casual relationship with your advisor at the donor agency, it also makes sure to build on this relationship for the future. Do not get too personal, but keeping it friendly even after the end of the project goes a long way.
Honesty is key for a good relationship. Only based on honesty, you can build trust. This becomes particularly important when you talk about the success of your project. I know it is tempting to make things seem better and more efficient than they are when writing a project report, but this is not always good in the long term. If you claim more successes than you achieved, the donor might be disappointed when the eventually find out that you were not honest and you damage your relationship substantially. When reporting, try to be as accurate as possible to avoid this pitfall.
The same goes for progress reports during the project. There is nothing worse for a donor than not hearing from a project for months only to find out by the end date that there were problems that could have been easily solved if they only knew about them from the beginning. If you cannot achieve a particular milestone, let the donor know and explain exactly the reasons for this shorfall. Sharing difficulties and problems in a timely manner is not a sign of weakness, but of professionalism. Even though it might feel weird in the beginning, in the long run it is best for all sides. Donors can help you overcome problems and find a better way to deal with them, if you let them know. And being honest, even when it is seemingly to your disadvantage, shows that you are a reliable partner in the long term.
Do good reporting
Writing good reports is one of the most important things that can show a donor that you are a good partner in the long run. Everybody puts a lot of efforts into writing a proposal, because everybody wants to get a grant, but only organizations who are interested in a long-term partnership and who have good management actually write good reports. This is a very easy and simple way to show you are in it for the long run and want to establish a working history with that particular donor.
Think how you can be of service
The donor supported your NGO by trusting you and giving you a grant. If you want to develop a long-term relationship, it only makes sense to think of ways you can do something for them. After submitting a brilliant report, there are more things you can do. Even a long time after the termination of the project, you can think of ways to be of service for the donor.
Recommend the donor to others, if you had a good cooperation. If you talk about how great it was to work with them at conferences, workshops or other events, they might hear about it and be grateful. Maybe they will even recommend you to others as well.
Reference the donor when necessary and appropriate as well. This is particularly easy in social media posts. Tag them whenever you post updates of the project they funded and let them know that their money was well invested. If you have great pictures or other proof of the success of your project in the long term, let the donor know and give them access to use for their own marketing. This way you show that you have a long-term vision for both your own work and the partnership from which both sides can profit.
If you follow these five tips, you can establish a great relationship with your donor. Even if this does not directly result in more funding, having friends and partners in the sector is always helpful. In the long run, good partnerships will definitely be beneficial for your NGO and your projects.